Lions running back
Best has yet to be cleared for contact after missing the team’s final 10 games of the regular season and the their playoff game against the Saints last season after suffering his second concussion of the season Week 6 against the 49ers. The team placed Best on the physically unable to perform list to start training camp. Best didn’t want to go into details about what he still needed to do to get off that list, citing personal reasons, but seemed obviously frustrated not being on the field with the rest of his teammates.
“I’m just focusing on what I can do to get cleared,” he said. “That’s all I can really say. I’m definitely optimistic about it. I’ve talked to a bunch of doctors and now its just waiting to get cleared.”
Comments by head coach Jim Schwartz after practice made it seem the decision, in part, is out of the Lions’ hands.
“He has made tremendous strides … but there is still some ground he needs to cover,” Schwartz said of Best. “We have a lot of experts that are handling his case and we defer to them.
“We’re very optimistic we’ll get him back, but his progress is really not judged day-to-day. It's going to be judged week-to-week. We’ll make the decisions when they give us clearance.”
A week-to-week prognosis is certainly not the best-case scenario for Best, who is nine months removed from his last concussion.
Best joked that he’d seen “ a thousand” doctors over the past weeks, but remains optimistic he can still join his teammates sometime in camp.
Schwartz said he was disappointed for Best because his former first-round pick is in such terrific physical shape. Best participated in the non-contact OTA's and mini-camps this offseason and was singled out by general manager Martin Mayhew as a player who impressed him this offseason.
“He’s worked very, very hard, physically, but there’s still a ways to go,” Schwartz said. “Times have changed in the NFL. There’s no being unconscious and playing the same game, or having a concussion and coming back too soon. I think that’s a good thing.”
Best led the Lions in rushing last season with 390 yards on the ground in six games and was averaging 112.8 total yards per game before he was injured.
Best is eligible to come off the PUP list at any point during the preseason and will still be eligible to play Week 1 of the regular season against the Rams. If his stay on the PUP is extended into the regular season, he'll be required to miss the first six weeks of the regular season.
Toward the end of the Q&A session with reporters, Friday, Best was asked if he’s worried at all about his career moving forward.
“That has not crossed my mind yet,” he answered.